Tsegazeab Shishaye is an electrical engineer by profession and is interested in social issues, Ethiopian history, science and ideas that aim at changing the sequel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was a misty and cold morning. A poor helpless mother sitting on the roadside near the gate of a church was trying to warm her three kids covering them with her old veil, hugging her little one, and, at the same time, begging the passersby for a penny. I just dropped some coins for her and entered the church for my Sunday prayers.
A man with a microphone, wearing a thick black djellaba and a beautiful white gabi, and shiny black leather shoes, standing on the veranda of the church was rendering his sermon about the importance of sharing money, food and shelter to the needy and the church in God’s name. In the middle of his sermon, “money is the root of all evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith …,” he said, quoting from the Bible.
The man continued preaching. “No one can have two masters; for either, he will hate the one and love the other … you cannot serve God and money. We think that money does bring us food and make us happy. No, God does.”
With a lot of passion and energy, he kept telling us that we should not worry about our lives, what we will eat or drink; or about our body, what we will wear. “Look at the birds, your heavenly Father feeds them … Are you not much more valuable than them?!” he exclaimed loud and clear.
I support him on the moral lesson of sharing what I have with the needy because it is probably the way most people interpret their humanity – caring for one another. That much is understandable. What I despise most is, however, whether I should think money as the root of all evil and I should not worry about my earthly life at all.
I think money, with a good human mind to manage it, can bring not only food and shelter but also total welfare and happiness to society. It was money which helped to build the church itself. It was money which bought the preacher’s thick black djellaba and his shiny leather shoes. It was money that bought the food and drink which made him healthy.
If it were not for money, he would not even stand there preaching. He gets paid every month, and that money came from the pockets of the poor people. If it were not for money, the church would not have built big buildings around its area and rent it for business.
It is because she could not afford food or a shelter that the poor helpless mother and her three little kids were sitting at the gate, shivering in the cold morning and begging.
I believe money is not the root of all evil, the absence of it is. It is because of the absence of money that millions have died starving, unable to buy food and unable to get medical treatment. It is a fact that money is not an imaginary thing that we can easily avoid and whose power we can deny its power; it is the representation of the things we produce and own exuding our sweat.
Money is an economy, and no one can escape its influence. When the human mind is thinking well, money can be used to lift millions from poverty and hunger and to eradicate disease and ignorance.
Does God not love that? People in Ethiopia build churches and mosques in a far more beautiful way than their schools and hospitals, yet they all want to escape from poverty.
Another thing is, unlike the idea that the preacher wanted to convey, science has confirmed that birds do worry about their life and their food. They do not sit around and wait for God to use his miracles and drop some food into their nest.
No, birds do know that the world does not operate that way. They think, they work. They remember the past and they plan for the future. They study the weather and migrate to far away places in search of food and shelter. In case anyone wants to know how genius birds are and how they worry about their life, I recommend Ackerman’s book “The genius of birds”.
Many religions speak ill of money, denying the fact that money can be used for good causes. That seems ironic to me because these are the very institutions that collect a huge amount of it, using different ways – including manipulating people by their religion.
I believe people require the financial literacy and wisdom in how to earn and spend money in a right way, as much as they might need to have moral and ethical lessons from religion.
If God created man for the ultimate purpose of praising him, then he has to stay healthy and well fed, for a starving or sick person cannot think more than his empty stomach or his health condition, nor can he share anything with others.
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